The College of Arts and Architecture

Master of Music in Conducting - Orchestral

Program Goals

The Master of Music in Conducting degree is designed for the preparation of professional conductors, with options in choral, orchestral, and band/wind ensemble music.

The degree program provides students the opportunities to develop their conducting and rehearsal techniques, explore a large body of literature appropriate to the area of study, refine skills in music analysis and score preparation, and expand their knowledge in music theory and history.

Students are also encouraged to continue their studies in individual performance or composition.

Program Description

The curriculum includes individual instruction in conducting gesture, score preparation, and rehearsal technique. Significant conducting experiences with University ensembles are included, and students are assigned to at least one year of service as the assistant conductor of one or more ensembles.

The conducting degree requires a minimum of 36 credits of course work. At least half of these credits must be at the 500-level or above, and at least 30 credits must be taken at the University Park campus.  A conducting recital, master's paper, and an oral examination are also required.

Knowledge of the history and theory of Western art music must be demonstrated by satisfactory completion of competency examinations. These examinations occur prior to the start of each semester. Unsatisfactory performance on the competency examinations may result in the necessity for enrollment in remedial course work without credit toward the degree.

Degree candidates receive extensive podium time and, therefore, enrollment is limited to ensure that all candidates can receive this important experience.  Before beginning the application process, please contact the appropriate faculty member to ensure that applications for new students are being accepted.

The 36-credit requirement is as follows:

Requirements Credits
Orchestral conducting 8
Orchestral literature 8
Integrative conducting seminar 1
Score reading 1
Music theory, music history, or music literature in an area other than the chosen option 9
Introduction to music reference and research materials 2
Graduate degree performance 1
Master's paper 1
Electives 5

Admission Requirements

A candidate applying for admission to the master's program in orchestral conducting should have completed a recognized degree in music with at least a 2.8 junior-senior grade-point average. Transcripts should include the following:

  • 12-16 credits in music theory and analysis
  • 6-9 credits in music history
  • Courses in conducting, counterpoint, form and analysis, and orchestration

Candidates who are deficient in any area above may be considered for admission, but should be prepared to make up the deficiency without credit toward the degree if accepted.

Although the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is not required for admission, GRE scores are required if the applicant wishes to be considered for fellowships awarded by the Graduate School.

Student Aid

For an overview of current tuition and fees as well as the financial assistance programs available to graduate students at Penn State, see Graduate Financial Aid.

Admission Procedure Summary

Please click on "conducting" in graduate audition requirements to discover what is required. Then, access Application Process for directions.

Please note that ALL application materials are to be uploaded to the online application.  Upload the following materials:

  • an official transcript - NOT an advising or unofficial transcript - (or equivalent documents for institutions outside the U.S., e.g., degree/study certificates, diplomas, etc.) from all post-secondary institutions attended, in the language of instruction (and an official English translation if English is not the language of instruction)
    Chinese applicants must also submit an official graduation certificate and official diploma, in Chinese and translated English, if the applicant has already earned the previous degree(s).
  • names of two references and their email addresses (Penn State will contact your references directly)
  • statement of purpose (your professional goals and how graduate study will help you attain these goals)
  • repertoire list of works that you have studied in preparation for your career as a conductor. The list should indicate those works that you have conducted in performance, in rehearsal, or have studied
  • application for School of Music Graduate Assistantship (optional), see Graduate Financial Aid
  • please send a link to a video (on youtube, vimeo, or some other online video service) of your conducting (both rehearsal and performances)

The following should be submitted to Penn State by the testing agencies at your request.  Select "Penn State University" as the destination for your TOEFL or IELTS scores by selecting the correct school code below:

  • TOEFL and IELTS scores (international applicants only) - School Code 2660

Please contact Professor Edelstein directly with any questions (